MAY, 2017

Bureaucratic bungling

Abuse in nursing homes has raised it’s ugly head again, with an article in this weekend’s Australian titled ‘Lethal care: Insulin murders’. The article documents serial murder, going on behind closed nursing home doors, by a small number of appallingly dysfunctional staff. In every case, the ‘nurse’ had been sacked, put on disciplinary review and even deregistered for abusing their patients. These ‘nurses’ were always allowed back to work, and put in charge of the most vulnerable members of society.

A few brave entrepreneurs have tried to bring transparency to the aged care sector, by creating on-line rating services that allow residents and relatives comments to be published. But the abuse continues. All of the murder victims in these stories complained to the aged care facility, as did their relatives. No one listened. Instead, they were murdered.

What is needed to stop this terrible problem, for good?

Aged care training providers are receiving substantial amounts of money from governments, to accept and pass long term welfare recipients. But who monitors the standards of people allowed to care for elderly frail people?

The first story was of a man who’s beloved grandmother was one of three people murdered by a ‘nurse’ in a NSW nursing home. The ‘nurse’ involved had previously been sacked from other aged care facilities after complaint about abuse. He had even posted on Facebook ‘I hate old people’.

Police investigations were launched after three elderly people were admitted to hospital with insulin poisoning. The ‘nurse’ was later found to keep a tin under his bed of the funeral notices of aged care resident he had once cared for. Police will never know how many people this ‘nurse’ ultimately killed.

“…the Department of Health’s latest report on aged care says it received 2862 notifications of reportable assaults from approved providers of residential services in 2015-16 alone…”

The second story was of a traumatised woman who had spend two years battling to get CCTV installed in nursing homes, after her mother was murdered. Once again the drug of choice was insulin. Once again people had complained repeatedly about cruelty from this ‘nurse’, including leaving a resident left until she soiled herself with faeces, then telling her “just lay in it”.

And once again, this nurse had previously been stripped of her registration for professional misconduct including administrating insulin to patients who were not diabetic. She had subsequently been reinstated, further complaints about her behaviors were ignored and several years, later two aged care residents were found dead.

This scenario is being played out in nursing homes across Australia.

In 2008 a ‘nurse’ in a Victorian aged care and rehabilitation centre injected several old women with insulin at the end of her shift at a Victorian nursing home in 2008, so the resident would die on someone else’s shift.  Their jewellery was stolen, along with their lives. The ‘nurse’ was not convicted but struggled to maintain her registration.

Six years later she was still registered and working in aged care. She again used insulin to kill two aged care residents who had filed complaints against her. This time she was caught out and convicted.

It turned out her entire work history was littered with complaints from the people she was supposed to be caring for.

Why was nothing done?

“I am shocked and absolutely appalled she got her nursing registration back…” said the daughter of one victim.

The Hon Ken Wyatt, Minister for Aged Care

In just one single month in NSW last December, the Courts dealt with three seperate cases, where health professionals had successfully used insulin as a murder weapons.

I have personal experience of the violent and grossly inappropriate people allowed to graduate and work as nurses.

In 1990 I undertook a horrific Enrolled Nurses course at a Victorian TAFE. The course was full of long term unemployed and sole patients welfare recipients, who had paid nothing to be on the course, and resented being forced to attend. Despite verbally abusing both teachers and other students, lying about residents on placements (including making out that one resident had been eating her own faeces, as a joke) and failed the basics of CPR, all students successfully graduated. The reason? Money.

The TAFE made a fortune by loading their courses up with welfare recipients, ignoring their bad behaviors then passing them on to the aged care sector to deal with.

This course was so violent you could here the students yelling down the entire corridor of the TAFE. Classes were suspended several times. Some students ended up in tears. Two of the best students with an excellent work history, resigned from the course.

The other students and my self were left devastated by the violence of the bad students behavior. Subsequently several of these ‘nurses’ faced investigations for drug taking at work and abuse of patients.

The tying of training providers fees to the amount of welfare recipients they take on their courses has forced TAFE’s to fill their classes with people who often don’t want to be there. It forces inappropriate people into the nursing profession, while taking away the opportunity for genuine people to to study. Once people are qualified and employed it is virtually impossible to sack or deregister them.

In 2004 I worked on a hospital ward that had previously recently sacked ‘nurses’ after they were investigated on suspicion of killing stroke patients with insulin. Staff that had previously worked with these people, stated that the behaviors of the ‘nurses’ had shocked them, and included verbal abuse and cruelty.

“All of these cases involve multiple episodes of abuse, repeated complaints, all hidden by the bureaucracy while the offender simply moved to another facility to keep offending and in some cases, killing.”

Vocational courses have become ways to manipulate the unemployment figures.

Politicians, unions, bureaucrates and do gooders are washing their hands of the hard issues about personal rights versus social responsibility. Meanwhile the aged and frail in our society are becoming the innocent victims of dreadful policies.

The Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt has announced this May a national inquiry into the roles of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and the Health Department. I’m not hopeful it will bring real reform.

Frankly, the issue of murder in aged care facilities is as intrenched as pedophilia was in the Catholic Church. The same is pattern emerging. Criminal nurses are simply shifted to another nursing home in the same way that that criminal priests were shifted to another parish. The health bureaucracy, like the Catholic church, just lies and covers up.

Personally I strongly believe that CCTV should be legally mandated in all aged care facilities. All medication should be monitored closely.

But ultimately educational and employment laws needs to be changed.

No TAFE or University should be paid to accept long term welfare recipients into their course. It is just using nursing courses as an under cover way to manipulate the unemployment figures.

Unfair dismissal laws should be abolished. All employees are fully responsible for their behaviors. And all employers should have the legal right to hire and fire their staff.

And finally, all health care staff should have previous warnings and disciplinary action made public, so the public can easily see them. Healthcare is not a secret society, nurses are not priestess and hospital are not Cathedrals. Healthcare is simply an essential tax payers funded industry, than needs to be kept accountable and cost effective.

© Wikihospitals 2017


Lethal care: Insulin murders – The Australian May 2017

Drugs, theft allegations, insulin injections – St Mary’s Star, 2017

Motive a ‘mystery’ in nursing home insulin murders – SBS, 2016

Federal Aged Care Minister to Commission Review of Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes – 2017